DuPage County vaccination clinic reducing hours of operation

DuPage County public health officials will scale back hours of operation at a mass vaccination clinic in Wheaton, citing the wide availability of COVID-19 shots at other sites.

Starting next week, the clinic at the county fairgrounds will distribute doses on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The vaccination hub had been operating six days a week.

The county-run clinic this week reached a milestone -- administering 100,000 doses since opening in February -- but health officials face waning demand for shots.

Countywide, the seven-day average of vaccinations fell to 4,232 as of Tuesday, down from a peak of more than 11,900 in April.

At the fairgrounds clinic, the county is offering a vaccine incentive -- free tickets to Six Flags Great America -- to encourage eligible residents ages 12 and older to roll up their sleeves for their first jab of the Pfizer shot.

County officials are urging people to get vaccinated as soon as possible as cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19 emerge in Illinois. The state health department earlier this week reported 64 cases of the “more transmissible” Delta variant in 14 counties, including in DuPage.

“As a reminder, I strongly encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated as soon as they can,” DuPage County Health Department Executive Director Karen Ayala said in a statement. “Trends indicate the majority of COVID-19 cases are among those who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”

County residents who were not fully vaccinated have accounted for more than 99% of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths reported in DuPage since Dec. 15.

To date, 500,834 people, or nearly 54% of the county’s population, have been fully vaccinated.

County figures show 71% of residents who are currently eligible to be vaccinated have received at least one dose.

With 63% of those eligible now fully vaccinated, the county appears to be falling short of an ambitious goal set in May. At the time, health officials set a target of having 80% of eligible residents fully vaccinated by July 1.

Vaccines are available at pharmacies, sites run by health care systems and mobile clinics. In DuPage, there are 254 registered vaccine providers, a county health department spokeswoman said.